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A visitation of the seats and arms of the noblemen and gentlemen of Great Britain (Volume 1) online

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The views from the hall over the Neville
manor of Blackwell, through which tlie spark-
ling Tees Avinds in a radiant line of light, or
dashes down in darkness and in thunder, are
extensive, rich and beautiful. The varied
grounds contain tine specimens of the
cypress, cedar of Lebanon (one of the very
best examples in the North) and the singular
tulip tree. Here a portion of the large
collections of documents, title deeds, corres-
pondences, and MSS. formed by James Allan,
Esq., and his son, the antiquary (but princi-
pally the former), are deposited, ilr. Long-



staffe warmly acknowledges the " boundless
access he liad to these documents, which
has been used in almost every page " of his
excellent and elaborate history of Darlington.

BLACKWELL GEANGE (the seat of William
Allan, Esq., J. P. and brother of R. H. Allan,
Esq. liigh Sheriff of Durham) is a more
stately and older residence of the Allans
than Blackwell Hall, but it is barren in early
historical associations. It possesses, however,
a magnificent champaign prospect, a noble
avenue of ancient limes filled with rooks, long
laurelled walks, and choice adornments of
eveiy kind. Then it has a very extensive
and grand suite of rooms extending througli
the entire southern wing. Numerous old
portraits of the Allans all bearing a striking
resemblance to each other, look grimly
down, and impart a deep feeling as to the long-
continued residence and wealth of its owners.
The haunted state chamber completes the
picture of ancestral grandeur. There, where
the family lie in tlie solemn pomp of death,
some deeply undercut and tine carvings
dance over every unoccupied spot on the
bedstead, mantelpiece, and panelling. Over
all tlie Avails of the other rooms and stairs,
pictures by the first masters have been
drawn together by the present OAvner.
Among them is a portrait of a lady from
Lumley Castle, said to have been a favourite
of Prince Charlie, and inscirbed " William
Verelst pinxit 173G." There is also an
admirable portrait of Lady Castlemaine.

The motives, Avhether political or other-
wise, which induced the Allans to leave
their ancient inheritance in Staflbrdshire and
to retreat Avith avcU- lined purses to the
Bishopric, have never been very satis-
factorily stated.* They seized, hoAvever, an
important tuin in the commerce of Eng-
land, and plied their avocations with the
advantages of a large capital so happily
that in one year alone, namely in 1710,
Avhen George Allan, Esq., gave Grange some-
thing of its present appearance, he bought
estates Avhich in 1814 let for £5000 per
annum. Li his mansion he probably incor-
porated the vestigia of an earlier and more
humble house, for, long after, the old fire-
places on tlie floor remained in some por-
tions, Avith capacious hearths around. The
marriage trip of his son George and his bride
the coheiress of Prescott, in 1717, gave the

* The Allans have long occupied a distinguished position
in the county of Durham, and held the foremost place
among the magnates of the neighbourhood of Darlington,
not so much from their territorial influence, as that, in
the Avords of Ord, the elegant histoiian of Cleveland, they
are "a family illustrious, not only in antiquity and
honourable descent, but also in science, literature, and
the acliievemcnts of the intellect ; without which the
glittering coronet is but an empty bauble, and the pomp
of heraldry a ridiculous burlesque," — See Lurir/stajfc'r.
llistury oj Darlington.



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



41



fatlier an opportunity, in tlie exuberance of
his joy, to add the noble soutli wing as an
agreeable surprise to them on their return.
The liouse has been little altered since
with the exception of a slight change in some
of the windows. " The good Miss Allan"
Avho had a great taste for prints, and the anti-
quaries of the family covered every inch of
wall with pictorial beauty. " Paintings," says
Surtees, " were not forgotten, these filled
every panel, gradually insinuated themselves
along the passages, and clothed the walls of
the great staircase." In the days of James
Allan and George Allan, the antiquaries,
and of the accomplished George Allan, the
M. P. for Durham, the Grange which con-
tained a vast mass of charters, transcripts of
Visitations, and legal and genealogical docu-
ments, was a complete rendezvous of literati.
A more laborious, zealous or successful
antiquary than George Allan the father can
scarcely be imagined. He has left numerous
valuable antiquarian tracts, printed by him-
self at his pri^■ate press, which have long
since become libi'i rarissimi ; hni his assist-
ance to larger undertakings, especially
Hutchinson's elaborate history of Durham
was immense. He was in every way a
" Macevas, atavis edite rcgihis ,•" and yet
it would be very unjust to confine this title
to one member of the family of Allan only.

ROWNALL HALL, near Leek, Stafford-
shire, the country residence of Smith Child,
Esq., M.P. The proper ancestral seat of this
gentleman is Newtield,near Newcastlc-under-
Lyme, but this family mansion he was obliged
to quit upon letting the mines in its neigh-
bourhood, in consequence of which he was
induced to purchase the house then on this
estate, Avith the small grounds attached to
it. Originally the place had belonged to
the Arblasters, and had passed through va-
rious hands, when the present owner bought
it of a Mr. ]?*arker, who at the time rented
a small house there, erected on the site of
one yet older. This was partly pulled down
by Mr. Child, and partly improved by con-
siderable additions, so that the whole is now
a plain building without much pretension to
architectural ornament, and more allied to
the Italian than to any other style. For
the rest, Rownall Hall stands upon elevated
ground commanding an extensive view of
the hilly country in the neighbourhood of
Leek.



BOLTON ABBEY, Yorkshire, five miles and
a half from Skipton, the property of the
Duke of Devonshire, derived to him through
the Boyles, and the Cliffords. It owed its
origin, if we may believe the old tradition,
to the following circumstance : —



In the year 1121, William des Meschines
and his wife Cecilia founded at Embsay a
priory for Canons Regulars, which was dedi-
cated to St. Mary and St. Cuthbert. Thirty
three years passed, and the founders of
Embsay died, leaving a daughter, who as-
sumed her mother's name of Romellie, and
was married to William Fitzduncan. They
had issue a son, commonly called The Boy
of Egremond — one of his grandfather's ba-
ronies, where he was probably born — who,
surviving an elder brother, became tlie hope
of the family.

In the woods betwixt Bolton and Barden,
the Wharfs suddenly contracts itself within
the limits of a rocky channel, little more
than four feet wide, and being thus checked
in its course, rushes through the tremendous
fissure with exceeding violence. This par-
ticular spot was then, and is still, called the
Strid, from a foolish feat often performed
here by those of move agility than prudence,
who amuse themselves witli leaping, or
striding, from bank to bank. But the young
Romillie, of whom we have just been speak-
ing, when out hunting one day improved
upon the usual achievement. He took the
leap with a greyhound in his leash, and the
animal hanging back drew his master with
him into the torrent. The forester who had
accompanied him, returned with despair in
his countenance to the Lady Aaliza, and
exclaimed, " What is good for a bootless
Bene ? " to which the lady, pi'esaging some
accident to her son, replied " Endless sor-
row." The phrase " bootless bene," is ex-
plained by Whitaker to mean " unavailing
prayer," as if the forester had asked, " What
remains when prayer is useless." But the
acute and learned Faber rejects this inter-
pretation. Bene, he says, is in reality a
dissyllable, " the commencement of benedi-
cite, as conversely, our familiar word dirge,
is a contraction of the Latin Dirige. The
idea is, " wliat is the worth of an unavailing
benedicite?" However this may be, — and
we give no opinion upon the subject — the
priory was translated from Embsay in con-
sequence to Bolton by the unfortunate
mother, being the nearest eligible site to
the place where the accident had occurred.

" Soon near the spot

Arose a fair Abbaye ;
"WTiere happiness and hope forgot,

She wore her life away.
There mass was said, and trentals read,

And solemn bells did toll;
And ceaseless prayers to Heaven were made

For young Lord Komellie's soul."

As some drawback to the truth of this
legend, the drowned son of the second foun-
dress is himself a party and witness to the
charter of translation ; but then the tale may
possibly refer to one of the sons of Cecilia

G



42



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



de R.omellie, tlie first foundress. Tliey both
died young.

In modern times — no farther back indeed
than 1838, a yet more singular accident oc-
curred at this fatal spot. The story is told
by Dr. Faber in his notes upon the poems
of his niece, Miss Woodi-oofte, a young lady
of high poetical promise, who died at the
early age of two and t^\"enty.

"A party had gone up tlie valley from
Bolton to view the current. One of the
party, a young lady, stood on the edge of
the slippery rock, apparently in the most
violent exuberance of high spirits. But her
laughter, fearfully mingled with the screams
of fascination, was hysterical not joyous.
Suddenly she plunged into the raging tor-
rent, and was carried down the stream. A
brave young man, not one of the party, who
was there on the same errand, in a moment
threw off his coat, and plunged in after her.
Twice he unavailingly tried to clutch the
drowning girl. At the third eifort he cauglit
hold of her bonnet, and congratulated him-
self on his final success. Unhappily the
string was only loosely tied under her chin,
and the crushed bonnet came off in his hand.
Self-preservation now compelled him, from
sheer exhaustion, to make for the less rocky
bank considerably below the Strid ; and the
unfortunate young female was taken out of
the water a corpse about a mile lower down."
Whatever advantage the disconsolate mo-
ther derived from the translation of the,
priory, it is evident that the monks were
very great gainers. Bolton Abbey stands
upon a beautiful bending of the river Wharfe,
on a level sufficient to protect it from inuu
dations, and in picturesque effect has no
equal amongst the northern houses, if indeed
it have in all England. Opposite to the
east Avindow of the priory church, the river
washes the foot of a rock, nearly perpen-
dicular, and of the richest purple, where
several of the mineral beds, which break
out, instead of maintaining their usual incli-
nation to the horizon, are twisted by some
inconceivable process into undulating and
spiral lines. To the south all is delightful
from its exceeding softness ; the eye reposes
upon a few rich pastures, a moderate reach
of the river, tranquil enough to form a mir-
ror for the smi, and bounding falls beyond,
neither too near nor too lofty to shut out
any considerable portion of ids lays even in
winter. To the north, the scene is yet more
glorious. In front, and immediately under
the eye, is a smooth expanse of park-like
enclosure, dotted with native elm, ash, &c ,
of the finest growth ; on the right is a skirt-
ing oak-wood, with jutting points of grey
rock ; on the left a rising copse. ]\Iore for-
ward are seen the aged groves of Bolton
park, the growth of centuries, and yet far-



tlieroft'the barren and rocky distances of
Siraonseat and Bardenfell, contrasting with
the warmth, fertility, and luxuriant foliage
of the valley below, Avhich at half a mile
above Bolton terminates.

Notwithstanding the destructive effects
of lime, weather, and other accidents, enough
of these ruins still exists to be a subject of
the deepest interest to the poet, the painter,
and the antiquarian. Most of the habitable
buildings of the Priory have long since
perished ; but the Gate-House remanis en-
tire. The great arch by which the church
was approached has been built up with a
wall at the one end, and a window at the
other, and has been converted into a spacious
dining-room; and with the modern addition
of a wing on each side, the Porter's lodge of
the Monks of the order of St. Benedict forms
a convenient shooting-box for its noble
owner, when he is disposed to change the
bustling splendours of London, or the
princely elegance of Chatsworth, for the
feudal barony of his Clifford ancestors.

EVENLEY HALL, Northamptonshire, about
three-quarters of a mile from the Brackley
railway-station, the seat of the Hon. Philip
Sydney Pierrepont, brother to Earl ]\Ian-
vers. The lordship, properly spelt Even-
leigli — but commonly, Evenley — was pos-
sessed, so early as the reign of Edward
III., by the fondly of Stotesbury or
Stutesbury. From them it passed to "Wil-
liam Lisle, Esq., one of whose desendants
sold it to William Price, Esq., and at his
decease it was purchased by Francis Basset,
Esq., who built the present manor-house.
Coming into the hands of Sir Francis Basset,
Bart., afterwards Lord de Dunstanville and
Basset, it was sold by him to George Rush,
Esq., of Avhom it was purcliased in 1790 l,»y
Herbert Gwynne Browne, Esq. His daughter
and heiress, Georgina, the widow of Pryce
Edwards, Esq., brought the property by
marriage in 1810 to the Hon. Philip Sydney
Pierrepont, fifth son of Charles first Earl of
Manvers, by whom, as we have already men-
tioned, it is now possessed.

The present mansion is supposed to
occupy the site of a prior building, that ex-
isted here in the reign of Edward VI. It
stands in a pleasant park, of moderate di-
mensions, watered by the river Ouse, and
has a high character for salubrity both of air
and soil, which may well be, the soil being
a light loam on thin limestone, generally
throughout the lordshq?.

MIDDLEHAM HALL, Yorkshire, the seat
of Christopher Topham, Esq. This mansion
was first built about the year 1630, but by
whom is no longer known M'itii any degree
of certainty, though the various transmissions



SEATS OF GREAT BRITAIN.



43



of the place from one hand to another Js well
ascertained for a considerable period. In
1733 we find it pnrchased by Sir James
Pennyman, Bart., of Thornton, Yorkshire,
in Avhose family it continued till 1771, when
it was sold by Sir James Pennyman of
Ormesby to Richard Dixon, Esq., of Middle-
ham, who again conveyed it to the late John
Breare, Esq., of that place, nnder wdiose
will it devolved with other estates to his
nephew, Christopher Topham, Esq., Ijy
Avhom it is at present possessed. Singular
enough, by the marriage of this gentleman
with the daughter and only child of John
Dixon, Esq., of ]\Iiddleham and Brighton —
cousin of the above mentioned Richard
Dixon— the Hall, with other property once
belonging to that family, has in a manner
returned to the Dixons.

Middleham Hall stands in a small park,
rendered yet more picturesque by a hand-
some piece of water, and is surrounded by a
neat and ornamental pleasure-giound, Avliich
commands a magnificent view of the beau-
tiful valley of \\'ansley Dale, the windings ■
of the river, Yore, the distant mountains
beyond, and the- ruins of Middleliam's an-
cient and far-famed Castle. The rooms
within the house are numerous and conve-
nient, all of them being panelled, and one
lined with antique tapestry.

BURTON HALL, Leicestershire. — Burlon-
on-the-AVolds, is four miles east of Lough-
borough, and eleven north of Leicester. The
present mansion was, in a great measure,
built by the late Cliarles Godfrey i\Iundy,
Esq., to wliom the lordship was bequeathed
by his godfather, JMr. Noon. Tlie house has
little pretension to architectural details, being
a plain stuccoed building of irregular design.
It is, however, large and commodious, and,
surrounded by pleasure grounds of great na-
tural and artificial beauty, forms a residence
of considerable comfort and seclusion. Tlie
Burton estate was purchased by Lord Archi-
bald St. Maur, second son of the present
Duke of Somerset, and is usually occupied
by his lordship, and his brother. Lord Alger-
non, as a Leicestershire Hunting J^ox, for
which its proximity to the celebrated Quorn
kennels render's it well adapted.

The Duchess Sforza, when ward of J\lr.
Mundy, spent her youth at Burton Hall, and
the story of her early life is so romantic we
canirot forbear telling it : —

LordTamworth, only sou of Robert, seventh
Earl Ferrers, formed a youthful attachment
to a domestic in his father's household. A
child was the result of tire liaison. Lord
Tamworth died early, and the mother and
child were left unprovided for. In her dis-
ti-css, she resolved to take her little daughter,
then just beginning to lisp to Lord Ferrers,



at Ratcliffe Hall, in the hope of obtaining
some temporary relief. The earl had been
at variance with his son, and eitlier from some
feeling of regret at that remembrance, or from
an impulse of curiosity serrt for the mother
and child into the libr-ary. Though a stern
and haughty man, he took the little one on
his knee, and exclaiming, " It has poor Tam-
worth's eyes," desired the mother to Avith-
draw. The child instairtly made way to the
earl's heart, and the resolution to bring her
up Avas immediately taken. While he lived.
Lord Ferrers never parted with her, and his
domestic chaplain Avas appointed her tutor.
On his lordship's death, the young lady, then
]\liss Shirley, a fine girl of thirteen, Avas con-
fided, in conformity Avith the earl's will, to
her guardian, the late C. G. Mundy, Esq., of
Burton Hall, Avith an alloAvance of £3000 a
year during her minority, the reversion of the
beautifid estates of Roydale and Hoby, and
large personal property being secured to lier.
The gifted author of " Walks round Lough-
borough," Mr Potter thus mentions an inci-
dent that occurred during her residence at
the mansion, Avhich is the subject of oiu- pre-
sent notice : — " On passing this spot Ave are
reminded of one of those ' romances of real
life,' AAdiich furnishes another proof that
' truth is more strange than fiction.' It AA^as,
I think, about nine years ago (1832) that a
decently dressed Avoman, but evidently of ple-
beian habits, arrived at Bm-ton Hall, and first
earnestly requested, and then imperatively
demanded tosee ayouirglady,thena cherished
inmate of the house. Tire str-anger's request
Avas peremptorily refused. " Then force
only shall remove me from this spot !" Avas
the impassioned exclamation that folloAved
the stern denial. The lady of the mansion,
awed by the woman's firmness, at length
relaxed, and it AA^as arranged that she should
be permitted to Avalk round the room in Avhich
Jici- daugliter Avas sitting at her drawing, Init
with the express proviso that she should not
address her, or in any way discover herself.
This hard and trying stipulation Avas at length
assented to, and the viuther Avas taken round
the room rrnder pretext of shoAving her the
paintings and furniture, l^ears had rolled
by since she had been separated from her
daughter, and the child had groAvn into a
beautiful girl. The tide of maternal feeling
Avas high. (I knoAV not whether the filial
feelings were equally excited, or whether the
yoirng lady was conscious that it Avas she
on whose bosom she had hung that Avas so
intently gazing upon her.) Pictures and
furniture Avere unnoticed. She only saAV her
daughter.

" Her heart soon blinded both her ej-es
And slie could see no more."

" She Avas hurried from the room, and never

again, I believe, beheld the face of her child.



44



SEATS OP GREAT BRITAIN.



That mother now keeps, or lately kept a small
public-house at Syston, and that daughter is
now Duchess de riforza, the wife of one of
the most accomplii^hed and best descended
men m Europe."

BLENKINSOPP HALL, near Haltwhistle,
CO. Northumberland, the seat of John Blen-
kinsopp Coulson, Esq., a magistrate, and
lieutenant-colonel of the Northumberland
Militia, as well as deputy-lieutenant of that
county. The estate has for many centuries
been possessed by the Blenkinsopps, who
are described by Camden as being " a right
ancient and generous family," and may be
traced back to a very early period. In the
time of Edward the First, the castle with the
manor was held by Ranulphus de Blenkin-
sopp, and in 1339 by Sir Thomas de Blenkin-
sopp, who had license to fortify his mansion
on tlie boi'ders of Scotland. Nor has it ever
been out of the family from that period, the
heiress, Jane Blenkinsopp, having married
William Coulson, Esq., of Jesmond, in the
same county, a.d. 1727. The Castle, which
is now in ruins, stands on the south side of
the river Tippal, and appears to have been a
very strong building, surrounded by a deep
fosse, and entered by a drawbridge.

The present residence was chietly built by
the existing proprietor, in addition to an old
mansion situated on the north side of the
river Tippal, about a mile to the east of the
ancient Castle, surrounded by extensive and
well-disposed plantations.

SHERBURN HOUSE, or, HOSPITAL, the
residence of the Kev. George Stanley Faber,
Avho is Master, or Warden, of the same. It
is in the county of Durham, nearly a mile
and a half from the provincial capital, and
stands in a warm sunny dale on the east
side of Sherburn Water. The building
forms a quadrangle, inclosing an area of about
an acre; but many new rooms have been
added since it was founded in 1181 by Hugh
Pudsey " the joly Byshop of Dm-ha"m," for
the maintenance of sixty-five poor lepers,
over whom he placed a steward to defend
them and their hospital. It Avas dedicated
to the Blessed Virgin, Lazarus, and his sis-
ters Martha and Mary, a circumstance which
did not, however, protect it from tlie fury of
the Scots, who destroyed a greater part of
the original building. The damage done
by these marauders Avas repaired by Thomas
de Hessewell, avIio held the office of master
between the years 1330 and 1339, and other
restorations were subsequently made by Dr.
Gregory, who was appointed master in 1759.
Formerly the IMasters or Wardens, paid a
horu-blower, whose business was to keep a
look out for Scottish raids and blow his horn
as a notice for persons to secure their stock.



The legal name of this institution is
JDomus Christi Hospitalis de S/ie?-burn, whence
the more familiar name of Sherburn Ilunse,
not in the Cockney sense of the phrase, but
analogously to Charter House in London,
and Peter House at Cambridge. For a long
time it was supposed that there was not a
single ancient record belonging to the hospi-
tal, a deficiency much lamented by the two
historians of Durham, JIutchinson, and Sur-
tees. But the master's chaplain, the late
Mr. Bamford, who was curious m such mat-
ters, discovered in an old chest containing
obsolete leases — just before Mr. Faber be-
come warden, and unfortunately after the
death of Surtees, — muniments to the number
of one hundred and sixteen, quite perfect,
and almost exclusively of the twelfth and
thirteenth centuries. Of these the present
master has made a catalogue raisonnee, which
he intends one day handing down to his suc-
cessor with the muniments themselves.

It has been usually supposed, and is so
stated by Surtees, that the two first wardens
were Ernald de Aclent, and Sir jMartin de
Sancta Cruce ; but the muniments discovered
by Bamford bring out between these masters
two others previously unknoAvn, Guarinus
de Godet, — meaning in all probability War-
ren de Godet — and Radulphus Monachus.
In one of these documents is told a curious
tale, unknown before, — curious that is, as
illustrating the manneis of the age — and
whicli from circumstantial evidence, — for the
record has no date — must have occurred
between the years 1181 and 1194 in the
lite-time of Pudsey. It is prefaced by ano-
ther document, giving wliat perhajis we may
be allowed to call the pedigree of the story,
and which therefore cannot well be omitted.

I. William de Sancta Barbara, bishop of
Durham, issued about the years 1143-1152,
a precept to the men of Middleham that
Paulinus, son of Ralph, bishop of Orkney,
should along with his brother have and hold
the lands of Garmondsway.

II. Ralph, son of the above named Pau-
linus of York, had his right to the lands of
Garmondsway contested ; upon which, being
an ecclesiastic and therefore not permitted
to wield the weapons of temporal warfare,



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